Let’s face it, lube is a must when it comes to sex. It’s not only much more comfortable, and can actually heighten sexual pleasure, but it’s a must-use with condoms. Without lube, your condom is going to tear or break.
But, did you know that not all lube is equal?
In the heat of the moment you may be tempted to grab whatever’s lying around to get your rocks off. Guys often use substances such as butter, margarine, petroleum jelly (Vaseline is very popular), hand lotion and even cooking oil as lubrication.
These are often cheap and easy to get hold of because they can be found around the house. But, they may also put your health at risk.
The problem with all these products is that they are oil-based – and oil and condoms just don’t mix. Oil-based lube breaks down the latex in condoms – causing up to a shocking 90 percent decrease in their strength. That means tearing and bursting condoms; turning your hot sex session into a high-risk experience. One study in the US showed that 42% of men who have sex with men (MSM) use an oil-based lube, and this is thought to be similar or higher in South Africa.
Water-based lubricants could be seen as expensive and inconvenient, in part because you usually have to make the effort to go out and buy them. But with a little planning you can make sure that you have a handy stash and it really doesn’t have to cost that much at all – especially when you consider that your health is on the line.
The one-downside to water-based lube is that it is more easily absorbed by the skin, so it is more likely to dry out. That’s why you should apply plenty of water-based lube when having sex and do so again every now and then to keep things nice and slick. Water-based products are also easier to wash off and won’t damage sex toys.
I went out and tried out some of the most popular water-based lube products that you can buy in stores like Clicks and Pick n Pay. Here’s my handy guide to getting down and lubed-up.
KY GEL – around R 40
This is one of the oldest personal lubes out there. It says quite clearly on the packaging that it is safe to use with condoms, which not all products make clear. It also claims to be fragrance free, but it actually has a bland medical smell which is a little off-putting. It also tastes vaguely medicinal. The packaging too makes it seem like a medical product rather than something sexy. It’s quite thick and proved to be my least-liked product. It dried out the quickest and left an unpleasant residue. Verdict: It does the job, and is one of the cheaper products, but requires more regular applications and is no fun. There must be better options! Rating out of 5: 2
DUREX PLAY TINGLE LUBE – around R 60
Durex is known as one of the most-famous condom brands in the world and it has since branched out into lubricants – with this sexy and fun-looking range. Unlike the KY, this really had no smell at all, but it does come with a powerful little surprise. The product claims that it “warms, cools and tingles all in one” but when I used it – it just burned! Some people may like the sensation, but my partner and I found it unpleasant and uncomfortable. As a lube, it was long-lasting though. Verdict: It does the job well, but I didn’t enjoy the burning sensation. Rating out of 5: 3
ASSEGAI PERSONAL LUBRICANT – around R35
This is a local product, made in Cape Town, and comes in plain (odourless) or a “seductive strawberry” version. The texture is quite liquid and not too-gel-like, which I enjoyed. The strawberry version smelled and tasted great. (It’ll make your partner’s penis taste like dessert!) It clearly says that it’s water-based and that it’s condom-friendly on the bottle. Both these Assegai lubes were long-lasting and lots of fun. Verdict: This is a good product and its local! Rating out of 5: 4
OUT LUBRICANT – Free
OUT in Pretoria provides 10ml sachets of this lube, along with two condoms, inside its free safer-sex packs. The lube is manufactured by the same people who make the Assegai range, so you know you’re getting a good product. The packet I tried was strawberry scented and was very similar, if not the same, as the Assegai version. The only downside is that it comes in small sachets, but then it is free! Make sure to stock up! Verdict. Another very good water-based lube. Rating out of 5: 4
DUREX PLAY PINA COLADA – around R 60
This is part of the Durex lube range and was my hands-down personal favourite. The smell and taste, described on the bottle as “tropical flavoured” was fantastic. It’s like a tropical fruit cocktail. Yum! It was also one of the longest-lasting products and seemed to add to the pleasurable sensation of sex with a very slight warming effect – although it could have been my imagination. This range is also available in cherry flavour. Verdict: I had the most fun with this one and the sex was great! Rating out of 5: 5
For free water-based lube and condoms, contact OUT in Pretoria. They also provide non-judgemental advice, counselling, testing, ARVs, PEP and other services to men who have sex with men: 012 430 3272 / men2men.co.za. You can also contact Health4Men clinics for free lube and condoms at health4men.co.za.
Tell us below what lube works for you and why?